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Production Programming for Linux

 

Article updated at 10 May 2021
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Remember that you can always refer to the Easy Installer Documentation, there you can find a lot of relevant articles that might help you in the process of load and flashing an image on your module.

Introduction

Toradex provides several ways of installing Embedded Linux on a module.

There are methods better suited for development and production.

This article intends to point to every available method and explain their differences.

There are preferred methods for creating your own custom image:

Torizon OTA

Get Started With Torizon OTA

Even though the Toradex Easy Installer is fit for production programming on practically all scenarios, if you have decided to use Torizon OTA for system updates and maintenance, you can also use it as a tool to prepare a computer on module for production.

Workflow:

  • Flash the computer on module with a default, unmodified TorizonCore image.
  • Provision the computer on module to Torizon OTA.
  • Deploy updates with the latest software to be used in production.

Learn more on Deploying Container Images to TorizonCore.

Toradex Easy Installer

The most straightforward way to install any OS or distro on a Toradex module is through the Toradex Easy Installer platform.

It comes pre-installed with new modules and is very intuitive to use.

There are a few caveats when dealing with production programming which will be explained.

Note: Please note that not every module is compatible with the Toradex Easy Installer. A list of compatible modules can be found on Toradex Easy Installer - Load Toradex Easy Installer.

Flashing the image

A complete overview of how to use the Toradex Easy Installer can be found on its Detailed Manual.

If you have already flashed an OS into your Computer-on-Module, you can follow the Load Toradex Easy Installer steps to reload it into the RAM of the module, so you can flash it with the desired image.

To flash the module, it's possible to either use one of Toradex's available images (from our OS and Demo Images) or use your own build provided by a USB drive, SD card, or a local server as explained in the Detailed Manual.

Extra tools for production

There are a few extra tools that the Toradex Easy Installer provides to aid production programming. Namely:

Auto-install

It is possible to pre-select which image will be installed without choosing it manually.

The auto-installation section provides instructions on how to set this up, which can be done through images provided by USB sticks and SD Card.

Unattended Flashing over Ethernet

As an additional tool for auto-installing images, it is possible to provide the image, from the host PC, through a web server (e.g. Nginx) along with a DNS server.

Together with the auto-install feature, the image is flashed as soon as the module connects to the local network and identifies the webserver.

For more detailed instructions, read the Unattended Flashing over Ethernet section.

For more information visit the Toradex Easy Installer Documentation, more specifically:

  • Detailed Manual - As mentioned before, here you will find useful information in order to configure your image for automatic installation, and you will also find detailed instructions for creating your local image server for Easy Installer.
  • Configuration Files - Here you will find a description of what are the possible configuration options for the Easy Installer image installation process.
  • Custom Boot - Here you will find a description of how to customize the Easy Installer boot script if required.
  • Create Image - Here you will find a description of how to create your own image of Easy Installer.

Legacy Methods

Using the Toradex Easy Installer is the most straightforward way to flash an image to a module, in development or production.

However, if your module doesn't support it, the Legacy Method must be used instead.

Note: Legacy flashing method does not imply that the embedded Linux image is legacy. Warning: If possible you should use Toradex Easy Installer and not this legacy methods. In newer images, the legacy methods won't be available anymore.

It is possible to flash either through Ethernet or from an SD Card/USB Drive.

The following methods are suited for both development and production.

TFTP/NFS for automated flashing over Ethernet

  • An important article to read beforehand is How to Setup Networking for Embedded Linux Application Development. It explains the general concept, as well as sets up the TFTP/NFS server on your host computer to serve the client (module).

  • On a development environment, the Boot From a TFTP/NFS server article provides detailed information on how to setup U-Boot to boot from a server hosted on your development PC for rapid and dynamic prototyping.

  • Then, on the production environment, the Flashing Linux Over Ethernet article provides information on how to flash images from a TFTP server running on your local machine.

Using SD Card/USB Drive

This method uses bash script to flash the image from a USB drive or SD Card to a module. Instructions are specific to each SoC, the following links provide more information regarding each one: